The Men Who Run Old Mutual

Published in Company Comment on 26 October 2012

What you need to know about the insurer’s top executives.

Management can make all the difference to a company's success and thus its share price.

The best companies are those run by talented and experienced leaders with strong vested interests in the success of the business, held in check by a board with sound financial and business acumen. Some of the worst investments to hold are those run by executives collecting fat rewards as the underlying business goes to pot.

In this series, I'm assessing the boardrooms of companies within the FTSE 100 (UKX). I hope to separate the management teams that are worth following from those that are not. Today I am looking at Old Mutual (LSE: OML), the Anglo-South African financial group.

Here are the key directors:

DirectorPosition
Patrick O'Sullivan(non-exec) Chairman
Julian RobertsChief Executive
Philip BroadleyFinance Director

Patrick O'Sullivan joined the board as chairman in 2010. A chartered accountant, he was formerly finance director and a divisional CEO at Zürich Insurance, and has worked at Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, GE Capital, Barclays (LSE: BARC) and Eagle Star Insurance.

Julian Roberts joined Old Mutual as finance director in 2000, becoming CEO of Skandia following its purchase by Old Mutual in 2006, and becoming group CEO in 2008. He had previously been finance director at insurers Sun Life and Aon UK and has spent most of his career in the insurance sector after a brief stint at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Restructuring

He has done much to restructure Old Mutual since it was badly hit by the financial crisis of 2007-08. Though knocked back by HSBC (LSE: HSBA) walking away from a deal to purchase its stake in South African bank Nedbank, he has implemented a series of disposals including the group's Nordic business for $2 billion, cut costs and paid down debt. He has also expanded the group's emerging African insurance businesses.

Philip Broadley became finance director in November 2008, having previously been finance director of Prudential (LSE: PRU). A former partner in Arthur Andersen, he has held a number of prestigious accountancy posts, including chairmanship of the 100 Group of FTSE 100 finance directors and membership of the IASB's insurance working group.

Both Julian Roberts and Philip Broadley took home sizeable pay packets last year, reflecting Old Mutual's stock market performance. It would be more encouraging had they retained their awards under long-term incentive schemes in shares. Instead Julian Roberts sold over £5 million worth of shares earlier this year, whilst Philip Broadley sold £1 million worth last year. However they still have respectable holdings.

The company's nine non-executives include a smattering of accountants, bankers, actuaries and insurers, including a number of South African-based individuals.

I analyse management teams from five different angles to help work out a verdict. Here's my assessment:

1. Reputation. Management CVs and track record.

Strong and varied industry experience.
Score 4/5
2. Performance. Success at the company.

Strong.
Score 4/5
3. Board Composition. Skills, experience, balance

Well balanced.
Score 3/5
4. Remuneration. Fairness of pay, link to performance.

High-ish, but performance-related.
Score 3/5
5. Directors' Holdings, compared to their pay.

Decent.
Score 3/5

Overall, Old Mutual scores 17 out of 25, a result just slightly above average. The company's executives are doing a decent turnaround job, but share sales suggest they are not betting their fortunes on further upside.

I've collated all my FTSE 100 boardroom verdicts on this summary page.

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> Tony owns shares in HSBC, but no other shares mentioned in this article.

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